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UK industry needs to step up to the plate

by Andy Clutton

Gate Safe founder, Richard Jackson

UK gate / hinge manufacturers are failing to play their part in improving the safety of UK gates, according to Gate Safe – the charity involved in raising the standard of safety for gates and barriers.

Despite past calls from Gate Safe and its installers for manufacturers to take responsibility for the products they are bringing to market, the charity maintains that the key players are still failing to step up to the plate.

The latest example of this is the poor response to letters sent out by Gate Safe as part of its ‘Gate Safety by Design’ initiative, at the back end of 2023 to UK gate and hinge manufacturers requesting their support in addressing the growing number of ‘falling gate’ accidents as a result of a single point failure. Companies were approached directly by Gate Safe requesting their help in ensuring more gates are compliant with guidance championed by Gate Safe and supported by the British Standard EN 12604 – which states that a gate should not be capable of falling through a single point failure – such as a hinge breaking.

Gate manufacturers were asked to consider evolving their manufacturing to incorporate three hinges and in the interim (recognizing that a change to manufacturing protocols cannot be made overnight) to issue a safety notice suggesting that a suitable tether should be used in conjunction with the gate to eliminate the risk of falling. Similarly hinge suppliers were urged to issue a safety notice when supplying hinges for an automated gate, recommending that three hinges should always be used for this type of installation and advocating the use of a tether if only two hinges were employed.

Furthermore, Gate Safe flagged the fact that hinges must not represent a further safety concern due to the presence of reducing gaps, which is possible to achieve with the correct design from the outset.

At the time of writing, only ONE company has responded.

Gate Safe founder, Richard Jackson said, “For almost 14 years Gate Safe has worked hard to improve the safety of automated gates and we know that the recommendation regarding the need for non-contact safety devices (photocells, light curtains and laser scanners) and contact safety measures  (pressure edges) has been largely acted upon. But whilst the number of accidents which relate to a failure to install the relevant safety devices has dropped, there has been an increase in the number of falling gate accidents, hence our Gate Safety by Design programme. We firmly believe that all gates should either be supplied with three hinges – as per an internal door – or issued with a safety notice that a suitable tether should be used in conjunction with the gate to prevent it falling. To have this request effectively fall on deaf ears is hugely disappointing. To our knowledge, there is only one company manufacturing gates with three hinges. Surely it is time for the industry to play a more active role in improving the safety of automated gate installations?”

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